Advocacy Hero: Dr. Craig Cashwell
Interviewed by Melanie Kautzman-East, Professional Advocacy Committee Member
Interviewing Dr. Craig Cashwell was truly my pleasure. Dr. Cashwell has been a long time member and supporter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) International and is the currently the President- elect for the 2014-2015 year. This article documents Dr. Cashwell’s journey in becoming an advocate for the counseling profession along with providing some insights he learned along the way.
Dr. Cashwell became engaged in advocacy the way many of us come to these activities, through introduction and encouragement from a mentor. After this introduction, he began to take advantage of additional opportunities and served in multiple leadership positions. Dr. Cashwell espouses the belief that at the heart of any advocacy efforts is the best interest of the client. This belief in servant leadership permeates Dr. Cashwell’s advocacy actions as he emphasizes the connection between the work he is doing and how this work affects the client.
Dr. Cashwell believes that it is important to advocate for the counseling profession as he views all advocacy efforts as "trying to help people.” He commented that part of professional advocacy is about considering the vulnerability of clients when they enter counseling. When counselors consider whether or not they will advocate for or against a piece of legislation, they should reflect upon how this will affect those who seek counseling. "Taking the concept of professional advocacy from the political to the personal” is how Dr. Cashwell honors the client in his advocacy work.
Dr. Cashwell views his numerous professional roles as each contributing, in various ways, to professional advocacy. Whether he is functioning in his role of president elect of CSI, mentoring students, directing dissertations, or working on editorial boards he interprets each of these actions as contributing to the betterment of the counseling profession, by working to help others be better counselors. Dr. Cashwell articulated an authentic vision of the trickle-down effect, in that each action counselors take to improve themselves and the profession will always benefit the client.
Regarding advice on advocacy, Dr. Cashwell noted that he views advocacy on behalf of the profession as more service than leadership, emphasizing that you must choose things that are meaningful to you. He stated that if he only accepted leadership positions that he felt prepared to do, then he wouldn’t have accepted any. He emphasizes that when choosing which opportunities of which you may want to take advantage, it is important have a process to help discern which ‘mountains’ you will try to surmount. He encourages students and new professional advocates not to worry about whether or not their work will be perfect but to find meaning in those activities in which you choose to become involved.
Dr. Cashwell offered the following tips for advocates for the counseling profession. He outlined the importance of not trying to do everything by yourself. He states that his closest professional friends are ones that can support and encourage him as well as hold him accountable. He reports that relationships like these are critical. Dr. Cashwell also highlighted the importance of being intentional about a work- life balance. He encourages a ‘life outside of the profession’ and for counselors to be able to take care of themselves and to ask for what they need.
When asked about the biggest hurtle he had to overcome, Dr. Cashwell indicated his sensitivity to how he was perceived by others. He discussed that this process continues to be a work in progress and points to the importance of his supports. Dr. Cashwell notes that he is aware that he is affected by this sensitivity and the struggle to want to be liked by others. He talked about how handling this sensitivity has aided in his development as an advocate, specifically pointing back to the importance he places on intentionality.
Dr. Cashwell has been actively involved in the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC) division of the American Counseling Association (ACA) for 20 years. He references watching how the counseling profession has moved over the time he has been involved in the division as immensely rewarding. Dr. Cashwell also notes his involvement on the board to create the CACREP (2009) standards and his most recent tenure as CSI president-elect as milestones. He is a strong proponent of professional identity and sees the value of advocacy efforts on behalf of the counseling profession. Dr. Cashwell is looking to the future of the counseling profession, particularly the importance of licensure portability and strengthening licensure laws.
Originally posted December 12, 2013 at csi-net.org.